Talk for writing in Reception

I am hoping that at this stage in the term, some or all parents and families of children in Reception may have been lucky enough to have your children telling them about the stories we have been learning about in Reception class. Have you become the audience for a retelling of the three bears or perhaps the three little pigs? If so, I am thrilled, because this term I have embarked on a new approach to teaching traditional tales, inspired by the fantastic Pie Corbett (he is worth a google for anyone that is interested.)

‘What is talk for writing?’ I hear you ask. Well the best way for me to explain is to use a quote the book written by Pie Corbett and Julia Strong. Here they are explaining about the basis children need to be able to write successfully,

“Children cannot create out of nothing. They need both rich experience as well as a language bank inside the mind to draw upon. Where the reading of stories and poems is a regular part of daily life, children are helped to internalise a living library of poems and stories, like templates that can be used for their own imaginative flights of fancy.”

In their Reception year it is more important than ever to expose children to a wonderful range of stories, poems, songs and rhymes, in order to give them a firm foundation to begin their literary life at school. The ‘talk for writing’ approach helps to ensure these stories remain in their mental bank of resources by teaching them stories in a more dynamic, interactive way. I have begun telling the children the traditional tales using props, puppets and lots of visuals as I normally would. We then move on to the children becoming the story tellers, joining in with a choral rendition of the story, adding actions to certain words or phrases. This then means the children eventually should be able to verbally recite the story using the modeled story language, that they will later be able to use in their own writing. I have been absolutely blown away by how quickly the children have picked up on the actions and their confidence in performing the stories has been inspiring!

We also use story mapping as a tool to help children retell and process the story, turning words into images. This means that even before children are able to ‘write’ a story they can map a story from beginning to end independently. Above are some of our three little pigs maps we created. I hope this is just the beginning of your children’s venture into talk for writing and over the next few weeks you will see and hear more performances of a range of stories. I would love you to share any of these moments that happen at home with me in the children’s home learning books or with photos?


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